District settles on classroom locations (4/1/10)

Student placement forms available

April 1, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

With the recent announcement of the new house locations in Williston Central School, the district is moving closer to finalizing the reconfiguration plans for the 2010-2011 school year.

The school district released the classroom locations of academic houses in Williston Central last week. District Principal Walter Nardelli expected to release the Allen Brook School house placements this week.

Teachers were assigned to houses in January.

Pre-kindergarten through second grade students will have classrooms at Allen Brook School. Grades three through eight will be at Williston Central School.

Nardelli said certain design features at Williston Central School played into classroom placements. Parts of the school, for instance, were built with lower counters and sinks for younger students.

To decide on the locations of the houses, the administration came up with a placement model that it then presented to teachers and parents for feedback.

In assigning teachers and house space, as it will with student placement, the administration sought to establish equity throughout the school district. As explained on the school Web site, “We must keep all house(s) balanced in terms of student academic performance, special needs, and gender ratio. This balance creates equity across the houses in our system. Along with balance, the placement team looks at teacher and parent input, peer relationships and of course, space availability.”

Teachers were scheduled to meet on Tuesday afternoon with their new teams for the 2010-2011 school year. Nardelli said it was the first chance for the teachers to sit down with their the new houses for an extended period of time. The teachers would work out logistical plans, including who would manage the house Web site and who would serve as the house representative for the various subject areas of science, math, social studies and language arts.

The next step is to assign students to certain houses. Nardelli expects to have placements available in May.

“It gives us a good month-plus to go through it,” Nardelli said.

When placing students in classrooms, the administration will try to keep students with their current teachers or, if that’s not possible, to keep students with a group of peers from their current classroom. Nardelli said the school district values student-teacher relationships that last for more than a single academic year.

“People get to know you over time, see you develop, know your interests,” Nardelli said, explaining that such a relationship better allows teachers to develop curricula that will excite students.

Parents cannot request specific teachers or houses, but they can ask for their children to be placed in either a looping or multi-age structure.

In a looping system, a teacher stays with a group of students for two school years.

Placement forms are available online at www.wsdvt.org.